The Creaky Whirligig Gets Back Into Motion

After many months of thinking about writing, and doing the usual writerly procrastinating, I recently wrote a piece of flash fiction. When I had it well baked, I sent it around to a few journals.

Of the three places I sent it, two editors gave me personal replies in their rejections. Both told me they liked the imagery (one called it “luscious.”) I’m grateful for the personal replies; it’s been tough for me to get off my ass and do the work again. My reward is the direct feedback from these editors which is appreciated. It’s downright encouraging is what it is, actually.

So now I’ve re-written the piece again (for about the fifteenth time) and it’s current incarnation of 430 words is winging its way over to journal submission spot #4 (a newly hatched journal recommended to me by a friend. So if the good egg editors like that piece, it’ll be theirs for issue 2, should they want it.)

As any of my regular readers knows, I’m quite impatient with my writing process. I complain here regularly about how I need to write longer stories, and then poof I write another piece of flash fiction. Ha-freakin’-ha-ha, the joke is on me.

I was talking to one of my best friends who is a writer and novelist about this problem and he said he just writes and doesn’t edit while he is putting together a first draft. Then, to my horror, he pulled out FOUR yellow tablets filled with his scratchy handwriting and told me that this latest stuff he was writing was the result of several days work.

The thing that kills me is that this guy is an amazing storyteller, and he seems to have a never ending supply of stories he needs to write and then proceeds to write reams of pages. He has the opposite problem to mine, he usually has too much material and then has difficulty editing it down to something slender.

Not me though.

Here on my blog, I blabber on to the tune of 4-500, hell even 6-800 words at times. I let it all flow out and with a modicum of editing (sorry for the typos in advance) I publish my rant. (Anybody want to comment on all the random chatter on blogs? I’m guilty as charged.)

Why is it then, I ask you dear reader, that when I go to write a story I get the first 250-300 words down and then my heart freezes? I tentatively strike the keys to eke out another 50 or 100 words. I edit 330 words down to 250, up to 370, then down to 340. It’s a personal stock market of literary paranoia of whether I have included too much…or left out too much.

Somewhere in my archives is a humor blog post on an interview George Plimpton did with Hemingway. Hem posted a chart on his wall and notated: 450, 520, 400, etc. It was his daily word production. If I was producing 450 words a day I could write 3000+ word story in a week. (Ah, the joys of multiplication.) But I mean, hell, if Hem could make himself write 450 words a day then couldn’t I make myself write 100 words a day?

At least one of you, dear readers, has done the NaNoWriMo challenge. Or maybe you’re one of the rarified folks who wrote a novel and completed the manuscript. (Maybe you even got it published.) IF you have done it, how did you do it? Daily word counts? Writing binges fueled by diet cola beverage? I’d be pleased to hear your anecdotal experiences.

Write on…


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